There has been a lot of hype over the past few years around anatomical bridles, and how they are much better for a horse’s comfort and overall performance. But what are they, how are they different to more traditional bridles, and how do you know which is right for your horse?
An anatomical bridle is a bridle that has been designed and shaped in a specific way to avoid putting pressure on a horses sensitive facial nerves, and to relieve certain pressure points. Quite often, these bridles have a singular, broad padded headpiece, a curved browband and extra padding on the cheek pieces. These bridles have been created with the horses health and anatomy in mind, with the idea being that if the horse is comfortable in what it’s ridden in, its performance when ridden will naturally step up a gear.
The Poll: This is the area that is directly behind the horses ears, and is an area which is sensitive. More traditional bridles tend to have two leather straps which run across the headpiece which connects the cheekpieces and nose band. However, anatomical bridle headpieces only consist of one, broad, padded strap which is ergonomically designed to relieve discomfort in the poll.
Ears: One of the most important parts of a horses head – the ears obviously help horses hear what’s going on around them but they are also key to their body language with other horses and humans. We always know if a horse is narked off from where their ears sit! Having a bridle that is straighter cut around the ear muscles can interfere with the ears doing their job, and therefore could result in the horse displaying unnatural behaviours. That’s why anatomical bridles are shaped around the ears to make it more comfortable for the horse.
Nose: We all know that horses can’t breathe through their mouths, and instead breathe only through their nostrils which is why it’s so important that the noseband of a bridle doesn’t interfere with this area. Anatomical bridles may address this by having a curved or shaped noseband to completely avoid the nostrils to allow for optimum breathing.
The eyes: Did you know that horses have the largest eyes of any land mammal!? With them being positioned at the side of their head they also have a range of vision of about 350 degrees – giving them a greater likeliness of spotting predators in the wild. Some bridles cheekpieces have been known to actually interfere with this vision, and we all want our horses to be able to see properly, especially when going round a course of jumps! Anatomical bridles often have shaped cheekpieces which don’t interfere with your horses’ vision so they can focus on the job at hand.
There are some pretty tell-tale signs that your horse may be uncomfortable in their current bridle. Some behaviours include but are not limited to:
If you suspect that these behaviours are down to your bridle, it may be worth trying an anatomical bridle instead to see if this makes a difference. At Equiflair, we stock many different brands and styles suited to a range of disciplines. We’ve highlighted our top picks below to help you decide which might be best for you and your horse.
This bridle is best suited to horses who are very sensitive, struggle to relax and seek the bit and who have moderate sensitivity in the mouth. The noseband is shaped so that it does not put any pressure on the teeth from the outside which reduces possible bit-related issues. The headpiece has a fan shaped design and offers the best possible pressure relief for the neck and poll. The cheek pieces are flat with regular hooks are specially designed ‘cradles’ which allow the bit to suspend in the horses mouth, further relieving poll pressure.
This bridle focuses on the horses comfort above anything else, and is a great all rounder bridle for horses who try their hands at all disciplines. The noseband is a perfect fitting curved cavesson, which bypasses the main facial nerve, with the flash strap supporting unrestricted breathing. The softly padded headpiece is wide shaped for optimum comfort behind the ears, and the curved browband avoids any pinching in the eye area.
Ideal for horses who are stable and easy to ride, don’t like feeling trapped, may need extra support from a flash noseband or who are young and in need of a comfortable first noseband. This is a stylish snaffle bridle with a classical look about it. The noseband has a super soft padding built in that reduces pressure and enables a closer, optimised fit around the nose. The headpiece has an air gap over the highest part of the neck to give maximum freedom of movement, with an oval shape around the ears.
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